I don't know about you, but I love food. I'm literally always hungry. Then again when you have a metabolism that works at top speed, you tend to get the munchies a lot more frequently. I was graciously born with a wonderful gift; a gift that most people would die to have. I can pretty much eat whatever I want, however much I want, and not gain a single pound. Sounds great, right? It's probably every woman's dream. However in my situation, it came with a price. This is the story of how food both ruined and saved my life.
Let me first start by saying that although my endless-food-consuming abilities have had their disadvantages, I still appreciate my God-given talent for staying slim.
I have always been, and perhaps will always be, a bit underweight for my height and age. All my life, my body has pretty much been skin and bones, and I'm not the only one to notice. I've been told countless times by countless people that I'm tiny, that I'm malnourished, that I'm a toothpick, and I've been called things like "feather weight" and "boney buns" (Don't laugh. It really happened). It doesn't help the fact that I'm 5ft 2in. So yeah...I'm small. Every time I go over to someone's house when they are serving food, someone always tells me, "Eat! You're too skinny! You need to eat more! Get some meat on your bones!"...and awkwardly it's usually always some crazy Italian lady. Go figure.
The problem is, I do eat. I eat a lot. And don't think I exaggerated when I said that I was always hungry. I can stuff my belly until I look like I'm in earl pregnancy, and I guarantee that a half an hour later I will be hungry again. As a poor college student, I assure you that my wallet cries a little every week when I go food shopping. It's a bit of a hassle, not to mention expensive.
Most of my problems started early in high school. I was never popular, and had a small handful of friends, all of which were pretty well behaved, nerdy, and slightly lazy people. I didn't go to parties, I didn't do sports, I wasn't rebellious, and I was much too shy to be any kind of social. So most of my days I spent at home watching tv, drawing, and of course, eating. At the time I had a hefty addiction to junk food, probably as a result of severe depression and lack of activity. I could eat an entire family-sized bag of chips in one day. A memory that I'm not particularly proud of. I just never really cared about my health or well being, because I felt ok and I didn't see the consequences of it. I had a classic case of "indestructible teen syndrome." But after a couple years of this lifestyle, I began to notice that something was wrong. I started getting some very sporadic stomach pains. Sometimes they would be so intense that I would double over and wouldn't be able to move for a few seconds until it passed. Unfortunately I was never concerned enough about it to get it checked out. Fasty-forward a bit to my second year of college. By this time I had realized that my abdominal pains were caused by the excessive amount of junk food I had been eating, and had "cut down" on some of it. It did help to some extent, but the damage I had inflicted on myself had already taken its course. Suddenly I became very lactose intolerant, and anything that was greasy and over processed made me want to claw out my stomach. It wasn't until I started spending a lot more time with a particular friend, that I realized I had to do something about this. This friend (let's call her Amy) has always been a very health-conscious, very bubbly human being. She always has a spring in her step, and she is one of those girls who has a glowing natural beauty. She's the type of person who can walk into a room full of strangers, and leave as though she has known them all her life. She above all has been my biggest inspiration. Amy, like me, had a deep love of food, however she did not have the same powerhouse metabolism. She's always had to watch what she ate. But what was incredibly intriguing to me was that she never seemed to mind that. She never cried over that grease-drowned piece of pizza, or let that giant cupcake sitting in the window seduce her. No. Not that she would never eat them, but she knew her limit. Over the course of that summer (whether she knew it or not) she sort of became my food mentor. She introduced me to some healthier, and quite delicious alternatives to the nasty crap I had been consuming. We did a lot of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, and over time I gained a strong passion for the culinary arts. She also introduced me to yoga, which benefited not only my beat up digestive system, but my reoccurring back and neck problems. I still do yoga today. That summer by far was the best I had felt since I was a kid.
The fall back:
After summer had ended, school started back up and I didn't see Amy as much anymore. Then about a month later my boyfriend and I had broken up, and that's when all hell broke loose. Once again I reverted back to my old habits. But I would soon realize that taking that giant step backward would be more damaging than I could have ever imagined. My body had just been starting to heal itself from all the good things I was doing, and it did not take nicely to the sudden change I had just inflicted upon it. It started with the migraines, then a tooth ache, and then two tooth aches, then a cold, until finally my body couldn't take anymore. While I was working one day, I started to feel very faint and nauseous. I ended up passing out at the register while I was ringing out customers. I wound up in the hospital that day. Unfortunately the doctor couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, other than two of my teeth being infected. I was sent home with antibiotics and a note to stay home from school and work. The antibiotics did almost nothing to help me, and even though I got me teeth taken care of, I still remained ill. I was bedridden for nearly a month with constant brain fog, endless stomach pains, and fatigue. It was a nightmare. I became very anxious and extremely depressed. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I couldn't relax. I felt like I was dying. All I wanted was to feel normal again. Finally after two months of this hell, I had some answers. Turns out I had something called Candidiasis, which is pretty much a fancy term for a yeast infection. I was a bit confused by this discovery, since the only yeast infections I had ever heard of were those that are usually located in the nether region. But that was not the case. Although I did have a vaginal yeast infection, I also had thrush, and I had it in my gut. All those years of poor lifestyle choices had severely decreased the good flora in my body, thus making me extremely sick and almost zombie-like. As if that wasn't bad enough, the "cure" for it was far more torturous. Doc had put me on a diet that was designed to starve the yeast that was in my body. Basically I was banned from eating anything with yeast and sugar in it...which is pretty much everything except for most vegetables and water. At first the diet made me even sicker, but apparently that's normal because when the yeast dies off it releases bacteria into the body. So I had to deal with a couple more weeks of that sickness bull s***. The diet was absolutely maddening, and at some points I thought I was losing my mind. I went through a lot of mood changes, acne, and anxiety attacks. Not to mention I felt like a hungry zoo animal ready to pounce out of my cage and devour the first thing I laid eyes on. I remember thinking to myself, "Starving the yeast? HA! More like starving myself!" I lost close to 20 pounds on that diet. For some people 20 pounds isn't really that much, but my average weight is only about 105. 20 pounds was a lot for me. People around began to get worried, because even they noticed that I seemed slimmer than usual. My life was just a mess, and it seemed like there was no end.
But I stuck it out, and the diet did work out eventually. It was a roller coaster ride, but I got my health back over time. This time I planned on keeping it. I didn't end up keeping the same strict diet when it was finished, but I slowly incorporated normal food back into my diet. I've learned what kinds of foods my body can handle now. I'm back to my regular body size, I still eat like a pig, I'm still hungry 24/7, and I still worship food. I just have become more aware of what I eat. Also, my passion for cooking has developed into a useful coping mechanism for my anxiety/depression. I do still have my setbacks, but they are nothing compared to what they used to be. I've accepted the fact that I will never be the same as I was before all of this happened, mentally and physically. But that's what life is about, isn't it? Growing and learning from your mistakes. I don't want to let my past rule me anymore. I am the one in control. Only I can decide.